This week, the Delhi Police has filed seven charge sheets in connection with the communal violence that took place in Northeast Delhi in February this year. While the first four charge sheets focussed on anti-CAA protesters and alleged rioters belonging to the Muslim community, two have been on acts of violence allegedly from the Hindu side.
There are crucial differences between the two sets of charge sheets, which give an indication of the line of investigation.
‘Muslim Provocation’ vs ‘Hindu Retaliation’
The charge sheets seem to indicate that the main narrative is one of provocation from the side of Muslims and anti-CAA protesters and retaliation from the side of local Hindus.
Take for instance, this excerpt from the police’s note on the charge sheet filed regarding the murder of Aqil Ahmed (FIR Number 36) and Musharraf (FIR Number 38):
“Both the places of incident were not covered with any CCTV cameras. Based upon source information, it was revealed that some Hindu men had joined hands on 25th & 26th February, 2020, post the riots on 24.02.2020 in which Muslim mobs had done massive rioting in which large scale loss of lives and properties of Hindu community had taken place. The group was identified and some of the group members were picked up. During questioning, it was revealed that on 25th & 26th February, 2020, a ‘Whatsapp” group was created. This group had 125 members. Several members of the group were silent in the “Whatsapp” group. Subsequently, eye-witnesses were identified and examined. Bases upon oral evidences and the chat in the Whatsapp group, the identity of the perpetrators was fixed.”
Aqil Ahmed, a car mechanic and painter by profession was killed by the mob near Jal Boad Puliya in Bhagirathi Vihar, while Musharraf, an auto driver, was bludgeoned to death and his body thrown in the drain at C Block Bhagirathi Vihar.
Ten people have been arrested in connection with Aqil Ahmed’s murder and nine in connection with Musharraf’s killing.
In the police’s version, both the killings are being presented as a the reaction of Hindu men to the alleged rioting by Muslims the previous day.
“How is this possible? A vast majority of those killed are Muslims. The places of worship that have been destroyed belong to Muslims. So how can anyone say that the violence was caused by Muslims,” said senior advocate Mehmood Pracha, who is handling many of the Delhi violence cases.
The Conspiracy Angle
The conspiracy angle is a key element of the charge sheets against the anti-CAA side. For instance, the blocking of the Jafrabad road as well as the violence near Rajdhani School in New Mustafabad are accused of being part of a pre-planned conspiracy.
However, the conspiracy angle is entirely missing in the charge sheets involving the other side.
Interestingly, both the charge sheets involving accused from the Hindu community focus on the formation of WhatsApp groups. We already read the details of the WhatsApp group in the charge sheet on FIRs 36 and 38. The same can be seen in the charge sheet on FIRs 35 and 37, that deal with the killing of brothers Amir Ali and Hashim Ali. Here’s an excerpt from the note released by the police:
“During the investigation of these cases, it was found that during the peak rioting, a Whatsapp group was created in the intervening night of 25/26.02.2020, which had 125 members. Two active members of this Whatsapp group were located and joined in the investigation. During the investigation, their mobile phones were scanned and the specific Whatsapp group created on 25.02 was also identified. During the further investigation, it was revealed that while some members of these groups were only sending and receiving chats, few others were involved in active rioting.”
The police has claimed that “revenge” and “retaliation” were the key elements in some of the messages in these groups.
The police says nine people have been arrested in the Hashim Ali case and 11 in connection with Amir Ali’s murder.
However, in the Jafrabad case, a WhatsApp message has been used to allege a conspiracy. The message, supposedly found on the mobile of an accused, gives a list of steps local women can take to defend their homes.
Mehmood Pracha says that this clearly shows a one-sided probe.
“The only conspiracy here is from the Home Ministry and the Delhi Police. They carried out the violence, attacking Muslims,” said Pracha, who represnts Gulfisha, who has been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.